Author: Monika Keller, PMP

Monika Keller

Years ago, I was asked to lead Project X. It would have been a big change management project, but I couldn't stand by it. It just didn't fit my understanding of sustainable and responsible business as it was clear it would not end well for the company and my colleagues. Perhaps you know what I mean. Yet I knew my sponsor had to implement it as it came straight from the top (he was showing them the effects by regularly stating facts and figures, but they had other priorities). - I looked for all kind of answers and excuses as to why I couldn't do it. At one point, my boss said, "Monika, I'm convinced you can do it. Because no matter what project I give you, it always turns out well! You have all the prerequisites to do it. The question is rather whether you want to do it..." -

He had caught me. And suddenly, the scales fell from my eyes. In fact, I didn't want to do it! And fortunately, the relationship between my boss and myself was so strong that I could be honest about it without fearing negative effects. I didn't have to say yes. I was psychologically safe and allowed to allow myself not to want to do it. All I had to do is say “no” and it would be okay. Why did I then have such a hard time saying it in the first place? The company had enough other projects for me to lead in which I could put my heart and soul into and feel comfortable with. Still there was a reason for me to be there and I could influence certain things the way I want!

Perhaps you had this situation too. How many times has your gut feeling told you, “You can’t do this”, and then you said to your boss, “Sure, no problem”, instead of asking yourself “Do I want to do this?”. You may have feared negative consequences if you had started a “real conversation” about it. It may have been embarrassing and depending on your cultural background, not appropriate to question anything that comes from your supervisor.

How about approaching the topic with a fresh mind next time and ask yourself the question “Do I want to do this?”.

If the answer is “no”, you can ask yourself why. Is it because you feel you lack training, experience and self-confidence? Then just say so and you can use it as an opportunity to grow your skills. Most likely, your company will support you by further training or give you a coach or mentor to help you advance your skills. It will be a win-win for all.

However, if your answer is “no” and the reason is your personal values that may lead to a conflict of interest, it is a different story. It may also be that you have other priorities in life at the moment that are equally important for your work-life balance, such as taking care of family members or seeing friends or doing sports or finishing that further training, and you see that this project really counteracts your deepest needs of balance. You are allowed to pause and then make a conscious decision. Have you ever thought about it that way?

Maybe you had a new year’s resolution for this year. You may want to work fewer hours in order to have more time for other things such as sports, meeting friends or doing a further education. Or you may finally want to create that “me time” to think about what you want to do the next 20 years of your life. Then you may find inspiration reading my blogs at Blog | 3C Keller (

There is one about setting healthy boundaries that I can recommend you. As a PQ Coach, I also offer app-based self-paced learning by Positive Intelligence if you want to grow your mental fitness muscles to recover faster in challenging times, improve relationships, take laser-focused action and lead a healthier work-life balance. Just ask me for more information if that resonates with you.

Happiness starts with inner peace. If you make decisions that are in line with your values, you will be able to respect yourself. Others will also respect you more, not less, if you set healthy boundaries and advocate for change that is sustainable.

Here’s how to contact me: Kontakt | 3C Keller (